Bedford Borough Local Plan 2040 Plan for Submission

Ended on the 29 July 2022
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3.0 Climate change

(2)3.1 Climate change is a strategic priority for national policy across all areas of the UK and is central to policy formation. It has been established that changes to the global climate are happening at an ever-increasing rate. Increasing average temperatures, changes to weather patterns, rising sea levels and greater risk of flooding are all potential consequences of a 'change-nothing' approach to the way we develop our communities going forward.

3.2 The government has recognised the increasing risks to the country that climate change poses and, through the Climate Change Act 2008 and the subsequent Amendment Order (Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019) has committed the UK to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

3.3 The Paris Agreement in December 2015 resulted in international agreement to keep global temperature increases "well below" 2.0C and "endeavour to limit" the rise to 1.5C. More recently, in 2021 COP26 took place in Glasgow where all agreed to revisit and strengthen their current emissions targets to 2030.The Glasgow Pact increased requirements for long term strategies and the need to keep them up to date and it keeps the 1.5C limit in sight but only if countries take concerted and immediate action.

3.4 The Climate Change Committee has published The Sixth Carbon Budget[13] which provides ministers with advice on the volume of greenhouse gases the UK can emit during the period 2033-2037. The Budget can be met through four key steps:

  • Take up of low carbon solutions
  • Expansion of low-carbon energy suppliers
  • Reducing demand for carbon-intensive activities
  • Land and greenhouse gas removals

3.5 Climate is impacted by all services, not just planning, and mitigating and adapting to climate change is the responsibility of everyone in the community, not just the council and government. However, planning is an important part of the solution. Policies can affect buildings and changes to the landscape, the way places grow and change and the demand and reliance places have on using fossil fuels.

3.6 The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires local planning authorities to include in their local plans policies to ensure development, and use of land contribute to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. Our policies set requirements for buildings that use less energy and that will survive future climate change.

National Planning Policy

(1)3.7 The Government sets national planning policy, Building Regulations and other legislation that must be taken into consideration. The government's national planning policy guidance sets out examples of how local plans might address climate change.

(2)3.8 To achieve sustainable development, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states as part of its environmental objective of sustainable development that the planning system should "contribute to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; including making effective use of land, helping to improve biodiversity, using natural resources prudently, minimising waste and pollution, and mitigating and adapting to climate change, including moving to a low carbon economy."

3.9 It requires plans to "take a proactive approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change, taking into account the long-term implications for flood risk, coastal change, water supply, biodiversity and landscapes, and the risk of overheating from rising temperatures".

Bedford Borough Council Approach

(2)3.10 The Council declared a climate emergency in March 2019 and pledged to make its own operations carbon neutral by 2030. It has developed a Carbon Reduction Delivery Strategy setting out how it will achieve this aim. As part of this strategy the Council has pledged to incorporate the carbon neutral ambition into all Council strategies, including the Local Plan 2040. The Mayor set up a climate change fund in 2009, which offers grants to community groups to help with the cost of carbon reduction projects, and a Climate Change Committee in 2019 to monitor best practice and track the progress towards the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

3.11 The Council's new Corporate Plan 'Together Bedford Borough' 2022 – 2026[14] embraces climate change as a cross cutting theme. It recognises that there are measurable activities that indicate whether the local environment is being well managed and maintained and on track in delivering a local response to climate change.

(3)3.12 Similarly, climate change is a cross cutting theme through the Local Plan because it is influenced by most policy areas. Future development will need to incorporate different features to not only minimise their carbon emissions but also to be resilient to the climate change already happening. They will need to mitigate any remaining impacts through more efficient building, flood resilience, the incorporation of renewable energy sources, and by allowing the means for communities to shift their methods of travel. The role of the local plan in affecting climate change is one of facilitating the right environment for measures to be included in existing and future development to adapt as necessary. It will take the combined efforts of communities, residents, businesses and the development industry in the borough to embrace those measures.

(2)3.13 The spatial strategy for growth to 2040 (to be) adopted by the Council sets out a pattern of development which encourages fewer greenhouse gas emissions, by focussing development in the urban area and at locations with great accessibility to rail stations and where walking neighbourhoods will be created– more detail is provided in section 4.0 Spatial Strategy and Site Allocations.

(1)3.14 The Local Plan 2030 incorporates methods of both adaptation and mitigation in response to the climate change emergency. It includes a chapter on resources and climate change which contains policies requiring the effective use and re-use of land, consideration of water quality and supply and energy efficiency. Policy DS1 brings together all of the different policy areas from the suite of development plan documents into a comprehensive overarching policy.

(1)3.15 Consultants were commissioned to prepare a new Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA). The SFRA is an essential piece of the evidence base as it models the flood zones for the borough. Since the Local Plan 2030 was adopted, new guidance has been released by the government on how to take into account climate change allowances when modelling the flood zones. The climate change allowances are a percentage increase on the current flood zone 3a, and this allows the Council to see what the extent of flooding might look like in different scenarios. The percentage increase applied depends on the circumstances, for instance the type of development (residential, commercial, etc.) and the likely lifetime of the development (usually forecast as 60 years for commercial development and 100 years for residential). The SFRA has informed the selection of development sites for allocation and where relevant, an exceptions test has been carried out.

3.16 The Council continues to work with the Environment Agency, Anglian Water and the Bedfordshire and River Ivel Internal Drainage Board to ensure flood risk, surface water management, water supply and waste water management issues resulting from planned development are fully considered.

3.17 Through the lifetime of the Local Plan 2040 the Council will continue to gather evidence to inform and develop further guidance and policy to reflect changes in technologies in areas such as renewable energy and sustainable construction.

(26)Policy DS1(S) Resources and climate change

Development must support a move to carbon neutrality in the following ways:

  1. Minimising carbon emissions, including by:
    1. Being located so as to minimise the need to travel and where there are opportunities to maximise the ability to make trips by sustainable modes of transport (in accordance with policies AD36, AD39, 53, 87, 88 and 89);
    2. Delivering a density of development that makes the most of accessible sites (in accordance with policies 30, 31, 32 and 53);
    3. Contributing to more walkable and cycle-able neighbourhoods that reduce demand for car use (in accordance with policies AD36, AD39, 31 and 53) and incorporating electric vehicle charging points (in accordance with Policy 89);
    4. Protecting and taking opportunities for the more sustainable movement of freight (in accordance with Policy 88);
    5. Adopting the principles of the energy hierarchy and seeking energy efficient buildings (in accordance with Policy 54); 
    6. Taking opportunities to generate, incorporate and connect to renewable and low carbon energy infrastructure wherever feasible (in accordance with Policies 54 - 57);
    7. In the case of existing buildings, retrofitting them with measures to reduce energy consumption, in a manner consistent with their heritage interest (in accordance with policies 28S, 29, 30 and 41S).
  2. Maximising carbon storage and sequestration, including by:
    1. Protecting, and where appropriate supporting the provision or restoration of habitats that provide a carbon storage function (Policy DM7);
    2. Incorporating green infrastructure, such as trees and woodland, that helps to sequester carbon from the atmosphere (in accordance with policies 35S, 36S, 38, 39, 40 and Policy DM7);
    3. Minimising degradation and erosion of soil (in accordance with policies 40 and 47S).
  3. Mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change, including by:
    1. Managing flood risk associated with higher peak river flows and more extreme weather events, and relocating vulnerable uses where appropriate (in accordance with policies 92 and 93);
    2. Providing shade and green infrastructure to reduce overheating of urban areas during warmer summers (in accordance with policies 28S, 29,30, 35S, 36S and 53);
    3. Creating a place that promotes social interaction, since people who are isolated can be more vulnerable and less able to cope with the impacts of climate change (in accordance with policies 28S and 29);
    4. Delivering an environmental net gain that enables animals and plants to adjust to a changing climate (in accordance with Policy DM7);
    5. Incorporating appropriate water efficiency and water recycling measures, to help minimise the potential for drought (in accordance with policies 50S and 52);
    6. Minimising and mitigating air pollution (in accordance with policies 32 and 47S).
  4. Responding to the economic and policy changes that are likely to accompany climate change, including by:
    1. Reducing the reliance on the private car and road freight (in accordance with policies AD36, AD39, 53, 87, 88 and 89);
    2. Protecting high grade agricultural land (in accordance with Policy 46S).
  5. New development will be required to demonstrate through Sustainability and Energy Statements how it will take account of embedded carbon and contribute to mitigating and adapting to climate change and to meeting targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions having regard to the above.


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